Fairy Tail: Part 5
FUNimation // Unrated // $54.98 // July 23, 2013
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted August 8, 2013
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
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R E V I E W S
Graphical Version
Fairy Tail - Part 5 Blu-ray Review

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The Series:

Fairy Tail began airing in Japan in October of 2009. Over 170 episodes have been produced to date. The series is based upon the successful manga series created by Hiro Mashima. It stands out as one of the most notable recent anime series through a balanced combination of quirky science-fiction, fantasy, and an abundance of humor that keep things consistently interesting. The series is also action-packed and focuses on a guild made up of extremely powerful wizards. The series follows the Fairy Tail guild (not a big surprise there!) and the heroes that make up the band of quirky magicians seem goofy, well-spirited, and willing to work together as necessary to complete any mission.

The characters on the show are a central reason as to why the series works so well. It's the character element that grabs the audience attention the most. The central characters in the series are Natsu, a fire-breathing man with dragon skills and possible background, Lucy, an energetic girl who collects port-keys which unleash spirit being's with enough energy to win against any potential threats of the Fairy Tail guild, and Gray... a guy who has tons of skills and who always happens to take his shirt off somehow. There's also a comedic blue cat with the guild who is close friends with Natsu. The cat's name is Happy. Happy has wings and is capable of flying. Another strong supporting character is found with the tough fighter Elza, who is probably one of the most compelling and surprising characters on the show.

Each character contributes something to these adventures being so humorous, exciting, and thrilling. Early episodes don't feature quite as much character development as one might be hoping for but there is a strong likeability factor for each of the main characters featured on the show and it helps to keep in consistent in entertainment.

Fans of comedy and action will want to give this series a chance. Fairy Tail is an immensely enjoyable show. The best thing about this series is that it is a ton of fun. It isn't the most complicated of shows (at least this far into the run) but the cast of fun characters and offbeat situations makes it an easy show to enjoy without having to over-think it at all.

The premise is enjoyable and the execution of the creative elements works effectively so it isn't surprising that the series has been able to find mass popularity and appeal in Japan. Fairy Tail is a winning combination of some of anime's finest fantasy/ sci-fi genre aspects.


The Set: #5 - Episodes 49-60:

Season 2 has finally started to arrive from Funimation Entertainment: now North American fans can enjoy the series with the English dub and see where things progress with the 2nd season outing. The series is in many regards largely similar to before, with its combination of comedic episodes, character-based shows, and continuous story-arcs that can take the series a number of episodes to get through before another segment of the show begins to unfold.

The set begins with a number of character-based episodes that get the show off to a slow start but that are some of the most enjoyable episodes on the set: these episodes allow Fairy Tail's animators and storytellers to simply remind audiences of why we enjoy the characters in the first place, with all of their interesting quirks and great personalities. Humorous moments and offbeat elements are one of the main aspects of these early episodes of season two, and it's a nice break from the lengthy arc that concluded the season that started the show. We get to enjoy more time with these goofballs and it enhances the show on the whole.

These episodes also have a lot more to do with the story of Lucy, and it allows extra time to expanding on her character on the show, which leads to some of the best moments that the series has had to date. Some of these story concepts  surround a  romantic encounter with someone Lucy is told will lead her to a "fateful encounter", the possibility of romance  with Natsu becomes a question in her mind too, and she once again sees her dad and in a way which offers significant development to her character's story in another episode.

As the season starts to pick up on an on-going arc, however, the character moments which in many ways represent the show at its absolute finest are a bit less prominent for a while and another arc that feels lengthy and ongoing begins to be told. This set largely focuses itself on introducing us to a new set of foes for the Fairy Tail guild to have to face: and it doesn't happen for their guild alone.

A perilous and overwhelmingly powerful guild consisting of only six members has become a threat to the other magical guilds and the members are known for darkness and a kind of evil which threatens the balance of the good guilds as it appears this super-powerful guild intends on the path of destruction which will lead to stopping all of the other magic forces within the world. Determined to not let that happen anytime soon, Fairy Tail joins up with two other guilds in order to be better prepared for a battle over their magic communities. The teamed-up guilds become known as "Allied Forces" and the journey becomes one of danger and bravery for those in Fairy Tail and their companions.

A new character is introduced who is known as the "Maiden of the Sky" and she plays a big part in these episodes.  She is also capable of dragon skills as a "Dragon Slayer", just like Natsu, but she is also capable of healing abilities and has other strengths and qualities in magic which makes her an asset to everyone surviving (such as her ability to remove the effects of motion sickness, something incredibly helpful for Natsu as he frequently is sick because of various forms of motion). Her name is Wendy Marvell and while she's only 12 years old, she is one of the most powerful beings out there when it comes down to magic abilities. Wendy is also accompanied by a cat-like flying creature similar to Happy, who is there to help her with her when needed. This "cat" of sorts is named Carla, and she soon becomes at the forefront of Happy's thoughts as the two start to get along.

The characters must face off against members of the enemy guild and the intensity along the way becomes major for everyone. The opposing magic-users have great skills in the ways of magic and all possess ruthless qualities which make them incredibly dangerous. Natsu, Lucy, Elza, Gray, and Wendy team up to try and stop the evil side from winning. However, everything becomes much more complicated when a powerful magic force is unleashed which is known as "Nirvana" and which causes good-hearted people to turn towards evil if they can't control their emotions and which similarly makes people with darkness turn towards light. Things then become extra complicated as friends have to actually battle their friends and former enemies turn to different sides.

As the concluding episodes on the set are reached, Nirvana caused for one of the lead characters from season one who was an enemy to the Fairy Tail guild (and who was a former friend of Elza) named Jellal lose all of his memories of his darkest past, and he becomes overwhelmed with grief for the darkness he caused onto his friends. He then attempts to sacrifice himself to save everyone from the power of Nirvana before it can destroy all of the guilds and the fate of the world becomes a question facing everyone.

Can Fairy Tail stop the members of the six-member super guild and can the world be saved from the power of "Nirvana" as it attempts to wipe out everything on the map? The intense episodes in Part 5 won't completely resolve everything - but the quest along the way is an immensely absorbing one that will please fans of the series.

These episodes are every bit as well animated as everything that has come before on the show. One of the strengths of the series is simply how beautiful the art on it is, as all of these unique character designs, background designs, and overall artistic aesthetics are uniformly impressive and notable on an episode by episode basis. Fairy Tail is always consistent in the animation and for that reasons fans can always look forward to this production as a visually inventive and creative series of beautiful artistry.

The series continues to be a bit more mixed when it comes down to actual storytelling. Viewers will no doubt want to watch the entire show to follow it properly as the story unfolds, but as per the course for Fairy Tail the show becomes inconsistent in quality storytelling as some episodes are well done and intriguing while other episodes are forgettable and seem to act more as unnecessary "filler" episodes. During this set, everything is just as jumbled in overall quality.

The first few episodes of the second season are excellent episodes. Then the series takes a bit of a nose-dive and feels redundant, unfunny, and altogether messy as the other guilds helping Fairy Tail are oddly introduced and the concept of the opposing guild is unveiled. Things started to seem sort of convoluted as far as the storytelling was concerned. But entering the final batch of episodes changed that direction on the show as things were becoming well-paced again. The story refreshed itself and became intense again and storytelling seemed to improve in terms of the ongoing story and in regards to some flashback moments which expanded upon the newly introduced character Wendy. It improved the overall quality of the show. This aspect of the series continues to be a disappointing aspect of Fairy Tail, but the series is far more creative and well-made compared to the times when it feels uninspired.

Season 2 of Fairy Tail is off to a good start and it will be intriguing to see what direction the show takes next as the funny, charming, and delightful characters make it an easy series to recommend. Newcomers should begin with season one but all ongoing fans will want to give this second season a chance to continue to impress with fun characters and adventures that make it a compelling anime creation.


The Blu-ray:


Video:

Fairy Tail is presented in a combo pack release which contains both DVD and Blu-ray discs. The Blu-ray presentation is an upscaled 1080p transfer that presents the series with okay improvements: strong, bold colors and mostly good line detail. The transfer is somewhat soft because of the nature of an upscale presentation. This set has some banding and gradation which was not as common on previous sets. These are occasionally common defects found with some of Funimation's releases and it's too bad to find the problem carried over for Fairy Tail. It doesn't change the fact that the show looks mostly solid. However, some viewers will find these video deficiencies rather annoying and it does unfortunately impact the overall quality of the presentation.  

These episodes were animated to be presented in Standard Definition and were not meant to be viewed in High Definition because of the limitations of SD. Funimation has generally done an good job with this upscaled release, however, as it delivers the series in a solid upscaled SD presentation in the original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen.

Audio:

Fans are treated to two lossless audio options (which are both encoded as Dobly TrueHD tracks). English 5.1 surround sound provides a more enveloping aural experience with better use of sound effects and music reproduction, while the 2.0 original Japanese language dub is relegated to having a slightly less expansive soundstage.

When I began viewing Fairy Tail I opted more for the original language track but the English track continued to win me over frequently. It's a pretty good dub and the fifth set seems to suggest the voice actors are becoming a great part of the experience. I thought the dub done for Part 5 proved to be rewarding. The VA's did a great job and have kept things consistent while striving to capture the essence of the material. The only time I felt it probably could have been improved was in the middle chunk of these episodes, as it seemed as though some of the character reactions were a bit too jubilant sounding considering the storytelling events and the tones utilized by the Japanese VA's in comparison.

The English dubbing ultimately doesn't disappoint, though, and the early and latter episodes on the set (coinciding with the best episodes in this collection) featured excellent, first-rate dubbing that will absolutely be a pleasure for fans of the show.


Additional Screenshots:

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Extras:

The selection of bonus materials is limited on each of the Funimation Fairy Tail DVD set releases. Funimation included select staff commentaries, text-less opening/ending songs, and trailers promoting other anime series released by the studio.

Commentaries included on Fairy Tail: Part 5:

Episode 49: The Day of the Fateful Encounter

Episode 58: Celestial Skirmish

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Final Thoughts:

Fairy Tail is one of the best anime series around. It's not a perfect show, to be sure, but it's one of the most entertaining and compelling ones around. Fans of One Piece and other fun action-adventure-comedy series will enjoy it immensely. Season 2 gets off to a good start and it will be interesting to see where the show goes to next as the characters remain the best thing about it the storylines go off into different directions. Recommended.



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